| Jan 17, 2012
When we arrived in Mbarara, we had dinner with one of our volunteer teams. We learned that the UNHCR appreciates the Medical Teams International volunteer teams. UNHCR provides additional capacity to the team and encouragement. They also serve as a draw to the population in our clinic because the refugees like being seen by an American health care provider. Along with our Uganda staff, our volunteers make a significant contribution to the success of the clinic.
Last September, the UNHCR asked Medical Teams International to take over the health care for the entire camp. This means that we will be responsible for five clinics throughout the camp, serving a population of up to 70,000 people. The day following our arrival in Mbarara, we traveled over very rough roads for about 2 hours to get to the camp. At the camp, we paid a courtesy visit to the Office of the Prime Minister. We learned that the Ugandan government is very happy and supports our volunteer teams in the camp. A Ugandan government representative told us, “When we were planning to shift health care services to one organization instead of three, we felt that Medical Teams International was the best. But not only had the Office of the Prime Minister felt this way, the refugees also requested our volunteer teams. We asked the refugees which agency they preferred and one by one, they all wanted Medical Teams International.”
Apparently the clinic we are currently operating is the best in the camp and the best that the UNHCR has ever seen. There is real teamwork at the clinic that isn’t seen by the other agencies. As a result, the other agencies were asked to leave and the UN made the offer to Medical Teams International to take over the health care in the entire camp. We are now waiting on the UNHCR to finalize the budget we submitted to make this transition. We also recognize that we must maintain our culture as a Christian organization and will require our new staff to provide the same quality of patient care as we currently offer.